There are 17 games to go for the Mets again, but it is NOT 2007 anymore
“…With 17 to go,” is the back-part of a sentence Mets fans are all too familiar with, and wish it could be forgotten.
As everyone is well aware of, this is in relation to the 2007 campaign in which the team led the National League East by seven games with 17 to go and subsequently collapsed, missing the postseason by a single game.
Ever since that moment, “a seven game lead with 17 to go” was a reminder of past failures, a signal of dashed hopes and a sign that anything can happen in baseball, especially to the Mets.
And it did to the 2007 Mets.
Well, it’s not in 2007 anymore.
As it stands on September 16, 2015, the Mets are once again staring down the final 17 games of their regular season schedule. And, for the first time since that fateful 2007 campaign, have a big lead in the National League East.
While comparisons have been made by fans and media alike are unable to forget what happened that season, these two teams are in no way similar.
It’s not just the fact that this Mets squad has an 8.5 game lead over the East instead of seven, and it’s not even that David Wright is the only player remaining from that team. It’s more than that.
This Mets team is different, from the management to coaches to the roster and down to their mental make-up. During their latest eight-game winning streak, this Mets team came back from six deficits past the 5th inning. I’m not sure that 2007 team did that half as many times in midst of that spiraling month of September.
And Wright himself continues to remind that this team is indeed different.
“If you poll the room, the majority of guys in here probably don’t know anything about that year,” Wright said after Tuesday’s loss to the Marlins. “It’s not fair to group those guys in with that team.
“Baseball-wise, the differences are this team is built around starting pitching and that’s what we rely on,” Wright continued. “The teams we had in ’06, ’07 and ’08 were largely built around our offense. It wasn’t like this.”
The 2007 Mets certainly didn’t quit on themselves, but there was something missing with that team, along with the pitching Wright talked about.
A killer instinct; and intangible.
This current team has what that past team didn’t.
Roster wise, this Mets team is far and away superior to that of 2007, simply because of that pitching. Right now the Mets have Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz as the first four starters in that rotation. The ’07 Mets didn’t even have a player resembling one of those guys. When that team was falling apart, they didn’t have an ace to turn to without Pedro Martinez in order to stop the bleeding–they tried to heal a gaping hole with band aids, and they slowly bled out.
Another very important thing that distinguishes this club from the past: They’ve actually beaten the team they need to beat.
The first three of the Mets final 17 in 2007 were against the second-place Phillies, a series that was the beginning of the end as the Mets were swept at home.
This team, however, is just a week removed from going into Washington and sweeping the second place Nationals, all via late-inning comebacks. Overall, the Mets are 6-0 in their last two series against the Nationals, while the ’07 team finished the season 0-7 against the Phillies.
It’s time to finally let go of the past, and I think most Mets fans are already in the process of doing so. Having a big lead with 17 games to go will no longer represent the scar of the past, but rather the hope of what lies ahead.